With over 400,000 auto accidents per year, Florida is one of the most dangerous places in the United States for drivers. Even worse, many of these car crashes are catastrophic or fatal. In 2021, over 250,000 people were injured, and 3,731 people were killed in car accidents in the sunshine state.
There are around 45,000 accidents in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties alone each year, leading to the deaths of almost 500 people and nearly 30,000 injuries. Often, injuries sustained in car accidents are quite serious, with head injuries, herniated discs, and broken bones among the most commonly-reported ailments.
Beyond the physical trauma, many car accident-related injuries also negatively impact the victim’s financial, physical, and emotional well-being. Learn about your legal options in the aftermath of a car accident and discover how the Florida car accident attorneys at Nessler & Associates can help you recover damages.
Your Legal Options After a Car Accident
You have a few legal options in Florida after a car accident. Your personal injury lawyer may use one or more of the following avenues to recover compensation for you:
File a Claim Against the Negligent Driver’s Insurance
All drivers must hold personal injury protection and property damage liability insurance under Florida law. If you are injured in a Florida auto accident, these auto insurance policies will cover a portion of your expenses.
Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers 80% of your medical costs, 60% of your lost wages, and replacement household services. Since Florida is a no-fault state, drivers must recover compensation for minor injuries or property damage from their own insurance company.
File a Claim With Your Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Policy
While Florida requires all drivers to be insured, not all drivers meet these insurance requirements. If you are severely injured in an accident with a driver that is underinsured, uninsured, or unidentifiable (in the case of a hit-and-run), you may be unable to sue their insurance company for extra compensation beyond what is provided by your PIP unless you have uninsured or underinsured coverage.
These optional policies provide additional compensation for victims of serious injuries caused by drivers with insufficient insurance coverage. Your lawyer can help you file a claim with your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy.
Seek Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
While all drivers must have personal injury protection coverage in Florida, the state has comparatively relaxed insurance coverage minimums of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
While these minimums are usually enough to cover the medical expenses and vehicle repair costs associated with a relatively minor accident, it is insufficient for victims who suffer more severe injuries. If you require more compensation than your coverage provides, you can sue the other driver if you suffered one of the following injuries:
- One or more broken bones
- An injury that caused significant disfigurement
- An injury that caused permanent limitations on the use of a body part or organ
- An injury that caused a significant limitation of a bodily function
- An injury that caused a permanent disability
If you file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, your lawyer must prove that their negligent driving caused your injuries. Drivers can be negligent in various ways, such as speeding or driving under the influence, which your lawyer will fight to prove.
If the other driver was negligent, you may be able to recover damages beyond the compensation provided by your PIP coverage through a personal injury suit.
What Compensation is Available After a Collision in Florida?
If you file a personal injury suit against the negligent driver, several forms of compensation are available, depending on the case. The damages you may be eligible for include:
Economic damages are a form of compensatory damages and are the most commonly-awarded damages in personal injury cases. Economic damages are quantifiable and related to the costs associated with the accident.
Some common examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Prescription costs
- Vehicle repairs or replacement
- Car rental costs
Non-economic damages are another common form of compensatory damages that cover non-quantifiable losses to the victim, such as pain and suffering. A wide variety of aspects can be considered for non-economic damages, including your ability to enjoy life, your relationships, and your future.
Punitive damages are the rarest form of damages to be awarded, primarily reserved for cases where the negligent driver acted intentionally or with malice. In Florida, punitive damages are capped at $500,000 or three times the total compensatory damages, whichever is lower.
How Working with an Auto Attorney Can Help You Maximize Compensation
Working with an experienced auto attorney is the best way to maximize your compensation after a car accident. The vast majority of auto accident cases involve insurance companies, which are notorious for underpaying and disregarding the needs of claimants.
The car accident attorneys at Nessler & Associates have plenty of experience negotiating with these combative insurance companies, which we use to increase your compensation.
We also handle every legal task necessary to win your case, such as gathering evidence and representing you in court. We can help you build a case by using evidence such as video or photos of the collision, witness statements, police reports, and medical records to prove the other driver is at fault.
Skilled representation is crucial in Florida because the state operates under a pure comparative negligence doctrine. Under pure comparative negligence, if you are partially responsible for the accident, the insurance company can reduce your compensation proportionately to your percentage of fault.
Since this is a subjective determination, having an experienced auto attorney in your corner can lead to a significantly higher payout.
Your attorney will provide valuable advice to prevent easily avoidable (yet common) mistakes. For example, your attorney will likely instruct you to stay off social media until the case is resolved since anything you post can provide evidence that can hurt your car accident claim.
Work with a Skilled Auto Attorney From Nessler & Associates
The auto attorneys at Nessler & Associates have been fighting for car accident victims for over 40 years. Our experience, both inside and outside the courtroom, will be an invaluable resource as you begin the legal process after a car accident.
Our law firm has a track record of collecting millions in damages for our auto accident clients, including $15 million in damages for a client who suffered life-changing injuries in a rollover crash.
We know how traumatic and life-changing a car accident can be. Unlike other law firms, who may pressure you to accept an out-of-court settlement before trial, the Florida car accident lawyers at Nessler & Associates are not afraid to go to court to fight for the compensation you deserve. And since we operate on a contingency fee basis, you won’t have to pay a dime unless we win your case.
If you were injured in a car accident, call Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 today to schedule a complimentary initial consultation and get started on your path toward restitution.